Albemarle County Teachers Earn Certification in Culturally Responsive Teaching

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Monica Laux Monica Laux

A special program in Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) is taking on a new meaning.

Culturally responsive teaching is a certification program that helps teachers bring more diversity into their classrooms through learning and experiences.

At ACPS, they like to call "culturally responsive teaching" a misnomer because it has nothing to do cultural or financial background, it's actually a way to help teachers change the way they run their classrooms.

Some educators can elect to spend a year going through a certification for this teaching method where they have to prove it makes a difference in their classrooms.

The method involves educators thinking carefully about how they speak, instruct, and facilitate conversation. Those conversations became very important just before the start of this school year to discuss how they could make students feel safe, like they have a voice, and like they belong to a family.

The biggest element of culturally responsive teaching is that it has more to do with teachers - not students - and how they encourage diversity of thought.

“Students have a lot to offer, and you just have to listen. So giving them the freedom to be who they are and to provide their own perspectives, and to learn and grow and listen to each other and learn from each other has been a really eye opening experience for me. Its not always me telling them what to do a lot of times its them choosing their own paths, and letting me know what they have," said Monica Laux.

Teachers spend a year in this supplementary program doing projects, writing papers, and proving their teaching methods can make an impact the classroom before they can become certified as culturally responsive teachers.

The program took 10 years to develop and was implemented last year. There are now eight certified culturally responsive teachers in Albemarle County.